Monday, February 20, 2012


MUSINGS: February is my favorite month to garden. Everything is possible because it all takes place in my head. I dream about and plan the beautiful gardens that will spring up this summer. Achy backs and blistered hands aren't a part of it. And--when it's sunny and 40 degrees, it's hard not to go outside and dig in the dirt. 

REPORT FROM THE BOARD: The Board met yesterday. Here is some information to keep all the gardeners in the loop: 

As you know, our garden is on grounds owned by Winona Health and we lease it on a year-to-year basis. They generously allow us to be here, always with the understanding that if they want to develop the land we will need to vacate. This year language was added to our lease which reads: 

"Recognizing this agreement is for a temporary use of the land until Landlord determines a permanent use of the land, Landlord has the right to terminate this agreement at any time for any cause or no cause. As a result the property could be converted for use by the Landlord at any time and Tenant should continue looking for a permanent location if this were to occur. Landlord will work with the Tenant for an orderly transition if termination occurs during the growing season. "

The Board asked that the language be changed to state that we would not be required to vacate in the middle of the season, but the request was refused. Our liaison, Janel Miller, said that  every attempt would be made to not disrupt us in the middle of the season, but that no guarantee could be made. 

This brings up 2 points that the Board thought all the gardeners should be aware of: 
  • I sincerely doubt that we will be asked to vacate the garden before the end of the 2012 season, but if any of you gardeners are worried and want to withdraw from the garden, let me know before March 1, and your registration fees will be refunded.
  • More importantly for our long term planning, we need to begin to find a location that is permanent, or at least where we have a longer term lease. Those of you who were around when we started the garden remember what a big job it is to get a garden up and running. 

Some of you have already been thinking about this and have suggested possible sites where we could move. But I'd like to put out a request to all the gardeners to pool our collective resources and creative ideas about a possible new location. Criteria to think about are:
  • access to water
  • soil quality-we can amend it, but it should be reasonable
  • permanence-can we have a multi-year lease
  • access from town-ideally a bike ride from most of Winona
  • sun-6 hours/day minimum
  • size: about 150'x150'- larger is fine
If you have ideas, contact Sheila Rusk, or email me and I will pass the word along. 

CLASSES FOR BEGINNING ORGANIC GARDENERS: Lea Karlssen has created a series of 10 classes for beginning gardeners. The cost is $10 per class or $80 for the whole series. Classes meet on Thursday evenings either at Winona Health or in the garden, depending on the weather and season. Those participating will have hands on experience in the Hunger Garden throughout the season. The first class is this Thursday, February 23, 5:30 p.m., no need to preregister. Contact Lea if you have questions. The full curriculum is posted below.

FUNDRAISING: The Fundraising Committee is up and running. Plans being considered include:
  • Spring plant sales on April 14 and May 12 in the Garden
  • A "Do It Yourself  Winona Tour" 
  • A dinner raffle
More details on these events as they become available. 
If you would like to get involved with fundraising projects, contact Joyce Altobelli.

NOTECARDS: So far we have cleared about $425 on our notecards. Thanks to all of you who have helped out. And on the theme of pollinators, there are some lovely youtube videos:
Type  "The Beauty of Pollination" into the search engine. There are several really nice videos. 


Organic vegetable gardening 101
Interested in growing some of your own healthy vegetables but have little or no experience? 
Wahapasa Prairie Community Garden offers a series of monthly classes to help you out.

Classes are:
    1 ½ hour each and held once a month, February through November.
    In the garden, weather permitting, or at Winona Health’s classroom.
    On Thursday evenings at 5:30, limited to 15 ongoing participants
    $10 each. Early bird special: Sign up for all 10 by February 23 for $80.00.
All proceeds go to the community garden.
Head instructor is Lea Karlssen, founder of the community garden and professional gardening coach and teacher for over 25 years.

1. Choosing What to Grow.  
Decipher language on seed catalogues and packets; determine what varieties match your needs, conditions and space based on what you love to cook and eat; start a garden journal.  Bring seed catalogues or packets you want deciphered.
Thursday, February 23, 5:30 p.m. Location:  Winona Health classroom.

2. Starting Garden seeds: techniques and timing.
Learn to meet the basic needs of germinating seeds without special equipment.  How to plant, thin, re-pot and grow seedlings until time to transplant them out.
Thursday March 15, 5:30 p.m.  Location:  Winona Health classroom.

3. Early garden preparation and direct-seeding.
Peas, onions, carrots, beets, potatoes and salad greens can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked.   We will prepare and plant some of these crops in a special plot in the community garden.   We’ll demonstrate pre-sprouting and using floating row covers to help these crops along.
Thursday April 12, 5:30 p.m. Location: Wahapasa Prairie Community Garden.

4. Transplanting seedlings into the garden. Harden off, transplant and protect those crops you started in March into your garden.  Mulch, water, floating row covers and other ways to give them the best chance of success.
Thursday May 17, 5:30 p.m. Location: Wahapasa Prairie Community Garden.

5. Late direct-seeded and transplanted crops. It’s not too late and in fact the right time to plant squash, melons, parsnips, rutabagas, kale, turnips and second crops of early direct-seeded plants.  Learn to mulch, mound, lasagna plant, support plants and prepare to save seed.
Thursday June 7, 5:30 p.m. Location: Wahapasa Prairie Community Garden.
6. Managing the garden.
Insect and disease detection and resources for managing them organically. Weeding, mulching, starting a hot compost pile or bin.
Thursday July 12, 5:30 p.m. Location: Wahapasa Prairie Community Garden.

7. Handling the early harvest.
Fresh eating, cooking, canning, drying, fermenting and other ways to use that produce that’s coming in from your garden.
Section One: Thursday August ,  5:30 p.m. Location: Winona Health Classroom.

8. Fall crops & seed saving basics.
Short and cool season crops to fill in those spaces left by early crops you’ve harvested. How to select, collect, and prepare seeds for storage.
Thursday Sept. 13, 5:30 p.m. Location: Wahapasa Prairie Community Garden.

9. Planting Garlic and storing winter vegetables. Garlic is planted in the fall in MN to harvest next summer.  We’ll cover the techniques and also how to store this fall’s harvest including root-cellaring without an actual root cellar.
Thursday October 11, 5:30 p.m. Location: Wahapasa Prairie Community Garden.

10. Fall clean up and soil building.  
Soil testing and amending, cover crops, using finished compost. Evaluate your garden using your journal and make decisions for next gardening year.
Thursday November 8 5:30 p.m. Location: Wahapasa Prairie Community Garden.